Aim: To test an online course Parenting Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (PACT) in an RCT with families of children with cerebral palsy (CP), predicting improvements in emotional availability and parent and child adjustment.
Method: 67 families of children (2-10 years) with CP participated. Families were randomly assigned to waitlist control or PACT. Assessments at baseline, post-intervention and at six-month follow up (durability of intervention effects) focussed on emotional availability, adjustment and quality of life. Analysis consisted of repeated measure linear regression models.
Results: At postintervention (T2), an intervention effect was demonstrated for two aspects of observed emotional availability: parental non-intrusiveness MD = 0.68 (-0.56 to 1.92), p = 0.050 and child involvement, MD = 0.91 (-0.36 to 2.18), p = 0.011. An intervention effect was also found for the parent-reported emotional availability in terms of child involvement. Further intervention effects were found in parent-report measures of child quality of life (social wellbeing and acceptance, participation and physical health), parental mindfulness, parental acceptance, support, social connection, and meaning. No effects were found on parent or child adjustment. Analyses focussed on durability of intervention effect, collapsed across groups, indicated that effects persisted at 6 month follow up (T4).
Interpretation: PACT demonstrated an intervention effect for two aspects of emotional availability-parental non-intrusiveness and child involvement-as well as parental mindfulness and child quality of life. Parents reported increased comfort with the CP diagnosis, higher likelihood to seek support, higher likelihood to stay connected to others and greater meaningful living. PACT is an effective online/telehealth parenting support intervention for parents of children with CP.
Keywords: Acceptance and commitment therapy; Cerebral palsy; Neurodevelopmental disorders; Parenting; Telehealth.
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